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Brighter outlook for T&T economy

Brighter outlook for T&T economy
Colm Imbert (GP)

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PORT OF SPAIN – Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Friday called on Trinidad and Tobago to be “responsible” and implement reforms aimed at diversifying the economy even as he predicted “an overall surplus by 2024”.

“We have to keep our eye on the forex (foreign exchange) regime,. We have to resist calls for interference with our exchange rate. We can’t lower our guard,” Imbert said, noting the challenges associated with the uncertainty in the world economy and with extreme volatility in commodity prices.

He said while Trinidad and Tobago is benefiting from a global oil price in excess of US$100 a barrel, “the prices will come down”.

Imbert, addressing the one-day forum  titled “Spotlight on the Economy 2022,” said while he does not anticipate that the prices will not go below US$90”they will come down.

“I cannot see oil remaining up in that US$110, US$120 range for too much longer. So we have to emerge from this current crisis stronger because the resilience of the Trinidad and Tobago economy is what allowed us to survive COVID,” he told the forum organised by the Ministry of Finance here.

“The message I want to give today is you look at the data…because of the support that we gave the population and to the business community when COVID hit, because we dipped into our buffers…and we access loan funding both internationally and locally and we kept the economic momentum going that is what has caused the economy to recover,” the Finance Minister said.

Imbert, who also announced that budget day will be September 26, said that the fiscal credibility earned over the last seven years allowed the Keith Rowley government to access substantial financing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) and that Trinidad and Tobago is now well positioned to reap the benefits of the current favourable price dynamics with regards to petrochemicals, especially ammonia, which has more than tripled in price over the last two years.

“Several countries are close to economic collapse further to the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine. Some others are struggling under IMF (International Monetary Fund) programmes. This is not the case of Trinidad and Tobago.

“Our foreign reserves have now stabilized, in fact there is significant inflow of foreign exchange coming in now which have allowed us a lot of flexibility,” he said, recalling that in 2015 the government was advised to devalue the local currency at a rate of 10 dollars to One US dollar.” (CMC)